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Monday, July 29, 2013

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Beebeetown's The Twisted Tail

The Twisted Tail in Beebeetown, Iowa.
This is the tale of The Twisted Tail Steak House & Saloon, which was Rick's pick for this month's population-we (pop-we) Dinner Club. The tale starts here, when 12 of the club's foodies traveled across the Missouri River to Beebeetown, Iowa, for supper. Located just outside Logan, Iowa, from The Brown's house the trek is about 40 miles one way. My frugal husband decided not to fill the tank of our Chrysler Pacifica; since, gas is "usually" considerably cheaper in Iowa. We would find out later we were wrong.

We however got to drive a very scenic route from Elkhorn, Neb., to Beebeetown, Iowa. Along the way we crossed over the Missouri River with the help of the Mormon Bridge, zoomed by supple crops and acres of open prairie. As we rolled into town, we immediately came upon The Twisted Tail. We traveled down the gravel road in front of the restaurant and were greeted with our fellow pop-we Dinner Club foodies' waving us down. So, we parked on the other side of the gravel road.

As we entered the establishment we were immediately surprised with the rustic but very new naughty pine that adorned the walls throughout. If they were going for a saloon feel, as the sign said, they nailed it. This night it was extremely busy but was ample seating for the 12 of us. There even was a huge party shed out back. I sneaked away with Sue once we were seated to check it out. The shed area had concrete floors, a bar and even had a wall where patrons were invited to write their names.

Cheers from Beebeetown!
The Twisted Tail's menu is varied. It was a combo of down home recipes and bar food. See Randy's Steak & Potato dinner picture below. On this occasion, I decided to let my hair down and have a beer (see picture at right). To make the ambiance even better my beer came in a masonry jar. After the long drive we were famished and decided to get an appetizer, too. So, Jalapeno Poppers is was! They were tasty but typical prepackaged poppers. A couple of us ordered the Chicken Philly and for an additional charge made it Buffalo. The Buffalo sauce it was drenched in truly had a kick; and it paired nicely with my Bud Light. I had to eat it fast because I don't like soggy bread. Also, extra napkins are required for this sandwich because the sauce makes it messy. Sweet Potato Fries and a pickle rounded out my meal, too. The food was delicious but I have to slam the wait staff for service. Some how they forgot The Brown's meals, everyone in our club was finished eating before ours arrived. The manger even stopped by to ask how everything was--in which we said our food was out late--and he breezed by us. Luckily for him our waitress paid for our appetizer.

The train.
To make things worse, after dinner we found out there was no gas station in town. The closest was in Missouri Valley, Neb. So, immediately we took the windy back roads to find a gas station in Missouri Valley. Emerging from the road we had not met our destination yet. We could clearly see it--the gas station we so badly needed; however, a train was in our way. Yes, a train! This is a natural occurrence in these parts. But the gas light was blinking and thanks to Brian's quick thinking he turned off the engine as we waited for the train to pass. Because once the train passed; we literally coasted into the gas station on fumes. As you can tell from our tale, if anything, our time in Iowa for dinner club was a memorable one.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives The Twisted Tail a 3.6 star average on a scale of 1-5.
Steak & Baked Potato at Twisted Tail.

Atmosphere/Decor – 3.5

Cleanliness – 3.6

Wait Staff – 2.6

Menu – 3.8

Food Presentation – 3.66

Food Portions – 4.5

Food Taste – 4.16

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.16

Noise Level – 3

Overall Experience – 3.6

For more information regarding directions or The Twisted Tail menu, visit their website at

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to The Twisted Tail leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
Twisted Tail on Urbanspoon

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, July 22, 2013

pop-we Dinner Club Joins Urbanspoon Spoonback Program

According to James Beard, “food is our common ground, a universal experience.” This being said--attention foodies--it’s official population-we™ is now on Urbanspoon!
Urbanspoon Spoonback icon.

In January of 2011 population-we™ started a dinner club in which each month a member picks a restaurant to dine at with the club. Our club's taste encompasses fine dining, chain restaurants as well as mom-and-pop cafés and dives. At the end of each outing member's fill out a survey, which is compiled and reported on monthly by our food bloggers to our readers. You’ve asked and we’ve listened. Readers have commented that it is hard to find our pop-we Dinner Club reviews. So, if you've visited population-we™ recently readers may have noticed a new widget tab (shown at right), which directs you to a stand alone page featuring our pop-we Dinner Club Reviews. For your convenience, a compilation of pop-we Dinner Club's annual year in review posts are linked there as well.You're welcome! A link to Urbanspoon is now also on each pop-we Dinner Club post, too.

Those readers not familiar with Urbanspoon, the online foodie community allows you to keep track of favorite restaurants and share them with your friends. population-we™ is participating in Urbanspoon’s Spoonback program. A Spoonback is an automatic link from an Urbanspoon restaurant page to a blog post. Our pop-we Dinner Club reviews the restaurant on our blog and the link appears in a special Blogs section on each Urbanspoon’s restaurant page. So, from here on out look for our reviews under the “Blogger Review” on Urbanspoon.

Urbanspoon also offers an App that works really well for local eateries or when you’re in a town you’re not familiar with, too. Shake your smartphone and the Urbanspoon slot machine will suggest a restaurant. It's very cool!

In the future if you can't decide where to eat, turn to pop-we Dinner Club and Urbanspoon for help. We'll always leave a chair for you at the dinner table for pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Christmas in July with Gooseberry Patch and a Blog Hop Giveaway

Welcome to population-we™'s Christmas in July edition. In our household growing up homemade crafts and recipes went hand-in-hand when it came to Christmas. Back in the day, my sister would snarl at me when I was wasting wrapping paper with my homemade gifts for everyone. Many Christmases later there is a twinkle in her eye when she unwraps a homemade Christmas gift; especially, from our nieces and nephews. Today, Pinterest offers a craft and recipe haven for this blogger. At a whims moment, I can check a board or pin something on Pinterest from my iPhone. However, before there was Pinterest...there was Gooseberry Patch. Gooseberry Patch is on Pinterest, too. Even with this technology; however, I still enjoy the old school ways like a tangent hardbound book full of decorating ideas, easy-to-make gift ideas and recipes. This is where I was first introduced to Gooseberry Patch.

Started by two next door neighbors (Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin) in Delaware, Ohio. The two country friends decided to start a mail order business more than 25 years ago. Gooseberry Patch is best known for their family-friendly catalogs, books and cookbooks. Today, Gooseberry Patch has made country friends from all over the world. I’m happy to report--I’ve been one for years! I was elated to get my 15th Christmas Book in the mail recently. Over the years, I’ve made several recipes and homemade gifts using my Gooseberry Patch Christmas Books. My favorite homemade food gift is in the book again this year. I’ve not only made Holiday Pretzel Rods for gifts but also for Husker football parties and New Year’s Eve bashes. Due to copyright, I can’t give Gooseberry Patch’s recipe in its entirety, so here’s my version.

population-we™ Tasty Chocolaty Pretzel Rods

  • 1 ½ cup or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup peanut butter (preferably creamy)
  • Bag of large pretzel rods

On high for 1 ½ minutes microwave semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Mix in ½ cup of peanut butter. Dip pretzel rod halfway into melted chocolate and roll onto a topping mixture of choice (see suggestions below). To dry, put dipped rod on: a Silpat, parchment or wax paper.

Topping suggestions: chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, red hots, mini chocolate chips and sprinkles. Basically, pick anything you could find yourself putting on a sundae. So, the sky's the limit here!

Packaging ideas: Buy holiday baggies, place in mason jar or wrap in saran wrap and tie with a bow.

For readers with chocolate or peanut allergies; you can also replace the main ingredients with chocolate or vanilla almond bark. Almond bark does not contain almonds or any nuts at all. Microwave time will need to be increased. Microwave the almond bark for two minutes at a time until you can stir it into a velvety melted mixture.

Overall, this is a fun recipe to get the kiddos involved with; this way they can pick their very own toppings. Also, it is a fun idea instead of using a fondue pot. Next, night-in with friends--try this recipe--it really brings a group together.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Christmas in July treat! To celebrate even more population-we™ is participating in a Christmas in July Blog Hop. What is a Blog Hop? A place in the blogosphere where bloggers band together and offer readers (hoppers) an incentive to visit their blogs. Blog Hops can be very participatory in nature because hoppers are asked to leave comments. Bloggers get to introduce their site to new hoppers who also have the opportunity to enter a giveaway. This particular Christmas in July Blog Hop is set for Friday, July 19, through Monday, July 22. Stop by on one of those dates and leave a comment below. Tell us your favorite holiday memory, recipe or homemade gift to give or receive. Those population-we™ readers who participate will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card from QVC. Your name and email address must accompany your entry.
BWS tips button

population-we™ wishes all our family and friends a very happy Christmas in July!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Embrace Your Inner Fashionista

Some people are late bloomers; I happened to be that in the fashion area. The main reason, I attended parochial schools for K-9 grades and was a jock all through high school. So, during the day in my younger years, I was clad in private school attire: a white polo, a plaid brown skirt, white socks and dress shoes. During my high school days, I would mostly wear sweats and barely any makeup. Not until my college days, did I enter into the fashion realm.

Over the years many have influenced my fashion sense: gym teachers, friends, relatives and celebrities. Yes, I said gym teachers; I did mention I was a jock, right? During my college years, I’d pour over magazines and watch TV shows for style advice. Today, I no longer subscribe to InStyle magazine or watch those shows. Why not? Because I am comfortable to report--I have my own style. Watching an icon and fashionista like Cyndi Lauper is part of the reason. She has always defined her own style, which I truly admire. I do have to admit, I am attracted to a few labels. I adore Tommy Hilfiger because of the Americana feel. I just bought a Ralph Lauren suit for its sleekness and perfect cut. I also have to admit--I have a Jimmy Choo purse in my closet, too.

My Ralph Lauren jacket & miniskirt.
Unlike most fashion peeps, I live by one cardinal rule and only buy from the clearance rack. I’m going to share two of my very favorite purchases. They both happened to be before wedding anniversary trips. For our fifth wedding anniversary we went to Disney World in Orlando. With no kiddos, a destination The Brown’s wanted to visit was Pleasure Island. Right off of downtown Disney, Disney World's Pleasure Island included a comedy club, night clubs, restaurants and Disney Qwest (four floors of arcade fun). Knowing we would visit a nightclub, I was in search of a little black miniskirt. At Westroad's The Jones Store on the sale rack I found a Ralph Lauren skirt. I immediately chose to buy it; unfortunately, there was a jacket but the price was still way too high. I made the decision to leave it. If it is meant to be--it will still be on the clearance rack upon our return from vacation, and indeed it was (outfit pictured above)!

The next great buy happened to come from Shields at Village Pointe. For this trip, we were traveling to Jamaica for our 18th wedding anniversary. I was trying on bathing suits and Brian told me he found a cute pair of sandals he wanted to buy for me. I followed him to the shoe section where he showed me some strappy sandals for $120. I immediately had him follow me to the clearance rack where I found two pairs of sandals totaling $40. One happened to be a pair of adorable Sketchers.

I’m happy to share my stories above as well as glad to report, I’m not just a follower of the latest fashions, but a frugal fashionista. I dare other population-we™ readers to embrace your inner fashionista--and be your own kind of beautiful too! Do you have a fashion story? If so, share it on our official Facebook page or in the comment section below.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, July 1, 2013

This Fourth of July Funds Sought for Vets - Make It Visible Campaign

This Independence Day population-we™ pauses to thank our military and veterans for their service to our country. Before a Beach Boys' concert in Branson, Mo., an announcement was made to the audience asking all Veterans to stand. My father-in-law, a Navy Veteran, and other vets around the concert hall stood to a roaring sound of applause. It was a moment filled with teary eyes and goose bumps. However, as most are aware, Veterans haven't always got this acceptance and support. Born on the Fourth of July with Tom Cruise and other movies portray how Veterans really have been treated in the past. Because of this mental health for our military and Veterans has suffered, but a nonprofit is set out to do something about this fact; enter, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The goal to raise funds for a series of National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) satellite centers set to provide hope, healing, discovery and learning for traumatic brain injury and psychological health.

Different from other non-profit organizations; Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund focuses its efforts exclusively on one mission at a time. For this reason, the non-profit can help better the lives of returning U.S. military personnel and veterans in the most efficient way possible. Last March The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund launched a significant social media movement called Make It Visible to address this critical need facing our heroes in uniform and their families.

"We need your help in raising money to build nine NICoE satellite centers at major military bases across America," said Bill White, event organizer for Make It Visible. "100 percent of every dollar you donate to this mission will go toward design and construction costs, state-of-the-art equipment, treatment research and so much more."

The proposed NICoE centers will be on military bases across the country and serve active duty service members with combat related brain injury and psychological health conditions including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

"Our goal is to spread awareness far and wide. You have generously supported our efforts in the past, and we hope you will now help us spread the word about this new mission," White said. "Your participation will not take long, but through these small tasks we can together make a big difference."

To bring awareness to this cause, population-we™ joins ranks with Make It Visible this Fourth of July. We encourage others to join as well. If interested, Make It Visible organizers ask that you take just a few minutes out of your day to:

1. Tweet on Twitter about the effort. Sample tweets below:
  • Together we can help expose and heal the invisible wounds of war. Help #vets with TBI/PTS Donate $10: text TROOPS to 27722 @makeitvisible  

2. Like Make It Visible on Facebook at

3. Ask your friends and family to do the same!

4. And, of course, if you can please donate at

Open your eyes to the invisible wounds of war and help make them visible. So, this Fourth of July lets give the people who bleed red, white and blue on our behalf the honor, respect and help they deserve. Because thanks to their valiant efforts--237 years later--the U.S. is still land of the free and home of the brave.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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